Tuesday night’s road victory over the Portland Trail Blazes seemed like an amazing feel good win to cap off what had been a rough 1-3 stretch. Deuce McBride stepped up in a major way scoring a career-high 18 points off the bench, Josh Hart returned to Portland and flirted with a 16-point triple double, both RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley had efficient scoring nights scoring 22 and 26 respectively, and Julius Randle, despite struggling from the field, kept his head up and even cracked a few smiles towards the end of the game. The vibes, as they were described to be amidst the Knicks’ nine game winning streak, seemed immaculate once again. But while much of the team and fans seemed to be enjoying the win that helped them finish out their west coat trip at 2-2, starting center Mitchell Robinson had some interesting posts on social media.
Mitchell Robinson on Snapchat:— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) March 15, 2023
“Tired asf of just being out there for cardio fam like I want to play basketball to really just wasting my time and energy ♂️”
“Disappearing for a while” pic.twitter.com/1PiWUiyYcp
After the game, Mitchell went on to Snapchat where he posted, “Tired asf of just being out there for cardio fam like I want to play basketball to really just wasting my time and energy ”. The now deleted post isn’t Robinson’s first shot at the team either. In January of 2021, Robinson posted and deleted a tweet that read, “One day, they’ll let me play”, last season, posted something on Snapchat similar to what he did last night that read, “literally running for cardio and playing help defense” and last November, he tweeted, “The way we play is not set for me to do any moves”.
Mitchell Robinson just posted and deleted this... pic.twitter.com/EibDCHQVYB— Ferg (@FergTM_) January 27, 2021
Now, it’s understandable for a player, especially one that is asked to do so much of the dirty work like Mitchell is, become growingly frustrated with a lack of offensive touches. Robinson isn’t asking for the offense to run through him or for Thibodeau to allow him to go one on one more often. He likely just wants to feel more involved in the offense be it through lobs, post up attempts, or passing opportunities. And he does have a bit of a point. In the last two games, the 24-year-old has attempted a total of six shots and while the Knicks do have some capable offensive players in Randle, Barrett and Quickley, he certainly could have seen at least a slight uptick in offensive involvement with start point guard, Jalen Brunson currently sitting out.
That being said, Robinson finds himself in an incredibly tough spot. One, he hasn’t necessarily shown too much growth on the offensive end. This does admittedly end up being a bit of a chicken or the egg situation because one has to wonder if we haven’t seen offensive growth because he hasn’t had the chance to show it or if he isn’t getting the opportunities because he isn’t showing enough growth on offense. Regardless, while some of it can and should be attributed to coaching and a lack of opportunity the fact is to this point, he hasn’t seemed to have done enough to win over the trust of his coaches or teammates on the offensive end.
Secondly, it’s awfully difficult to defend Robinson’s action because the Knicks are winning. Even if Robinson’s feelings and frustrations are justified, going on social media and voicing his frustration just hours after a big win in which a young teammate of his has the best game of his career is poor judgement at best. It’s selfish, it’s immature, it’s bad leadership, and it’s just pointless. Telling the fans and the world about his offensive role, or lack thereof, does not help solve his problems and has zero positive impact on the team. And while the Knicks certainly can and even arguably should involve Robinson more on offense, he needs to be smarter and more mature with how he brings his frustrations up with his coach and teammates.
Thirdly, we also have to remember that Robinson, despite being an incredibly integral part of this team, has been lackluster over the last seven games. In the Miami game a couple of weeks ago, he managed to grab just five rebounds in 32 minutes. The following game against Boston, he was getting burned by Al Horford’s outside shooting ability. He then had few more disappointing and subpar games then got beat by Anthony Davis, who had an off night when not guarded by Mitchell, on a constant basis. And then he topped if all off with a four rebound performance in which he played just 21 minutes. In fact, over those seven games, Robinson has had a negative +/- in every game, leading to a combined +/- of -72. Conversely, we’ve seen Isaiah Hartenstein, who has seen an uptick in minutes and has even started to close out games, have a plus minus of +85 in those seven games. Plus minus is far from the perfect tool when judging player impact but even the eye test will tell you that Robinson, who is still a good and important player, has not been great over the last couple weeks. If Robinson is going to be public about his frustrations, doing so while he is playing below his standards if probably not the best time to do so.
Life’s a climb but the views great— Mitchell Robinson (@23savage____) March 15, 2023
Chances are, his agent or someone from the team has already spoken to him as he followed up his aforementioned Snapchat post with a tweet reading, “life’s a clumb but the views great”. Hopefully the team can get him more involved so he can be the incredibly impactful center we are accustomed to seeing. And hopefully Robinson can start learning from these impulse posts and start voicing his disappointments behind closed doors.